The implied benefit of 'automation' is often interpreted as efficiency and certainly marketers are asking us to do more with less. However it is easy to take this too far by driving thinking out of the equation in order to improve ROI. For a glimpse of what not to do, Hubspot wrote a piece on the 7 Deadly Sins of Marketing Automation with a set of good tactical recommendations ending with analysis and measurement. Yet there is a caveat to even that idea; because we are dealing with emotions, needs, and choices we must recognize that all that the testing and learning we're supposed to be doing may not be valid over the long haul (or even tomorrow). And if it is 'automated' why is there a scarcity of skills?
The reality is that we must also adapt to or shape consumer preferences in order to succeed in any competitive market. To achieve financial objectives we must understand the drivers of not only our business but consumer decision making. The methods of continuous improvement rely on a set of clear and stable objectives that are appropriate for a brand. Tools can't do that.
The important marketing questions that satisfy both issues seem to be:
- What are we trying to achieve?
- Why do we think we will get there?
- How do we plan on getting there?
- Why did we hit or more likely miss the target?
- What will we do next time?
In the end we must find ways to be both agile and efficient.